All Betts Are Off At Gippsland BREAM Pro
Declan Betts, a 37 year old retail nurseryman hailing from Colac, Victoria took out the Mercury Gippsland Lakes BREAM Qualifier. Betts (10/10, 9.03kg) sat in third place after day one, but rocketed into the number one position courtesy of his day two limit of 5.44kg, ultimately securing the victory by 650 grams from his nearest competitor.
Betts prefish was plagued with potential motor issues that threatened to derail his tournament, fortunately however these problems appeared to work themselves out as the event loomed. A number of locations on the Nicholson River proved to hold fish and formed the basis of Betts tournament plan.
Betts morning got off to a good start boating four fish quickly. The fifth fish however proved difficult to catch and even more difficult to land,
“I was attached to the fifth fish a couple of times, but alas those battles ended in tears and as the morning wore on I could feel the section of river I was fishing shutting down and it became apparent I had to move if I was going to fill my limit. My non boater and I snuck down to the lower reaches of the river and fished a section where I had previously caught fish. Soon after I found myself attached to a fish of a kilo and after all the the hard work was done the fish came close to the net, it turned and the jig and fish parted ways and harsh words were uttered. Thankfully, I picked up a consolation prize soon after and my non boater picked up a fish as well and that was the end of the excitement for day one.”
Day two started slowly and, as is often the case on the second day of a tournament, the fishing appeared to be tougher than day one.
“I was concerned that the river was not coping well with amount of traffic it had seen, especially after I had only caught one fish off my original bank from the previous day. I switched banks and dropped a fish but quickly regained composure and after a short space of time I had four fish in the well. Again the fifth was proving difficult, I was getting the hook-ups but for various reasons putting that fish in the boat was eluding me. I decided to put my faith in my original bank and finally put a good fish in the well then shortly after I traded a 28cm fork bream for a 37.5cm fork bream,
I started mixing it up, somewhat, switching sides of the river and I found another upgrade, a 39.5cm fork fish, at which point I was very satisfied and wondering whether sticking around was being greedy. I pressed on and on one particular hook up I thought ‘this feels just like the average fish nothing special’ then after seeing him under a tree branch it became apparent that I had better take this fish seriously. After landing the fish and realising he was actually a 38 fork fish, I knew I was sitting on a good bag and gave myself plenty of time to get safely back to the way in. It was the first time in my life I have come in over fifteen minutes earlier than my allotted finishing time!”
The presentation that accounted for Betts bream involved casting a Zman grubs rigged on a Decoy Nailbomb weedless 1/16th jighead tight to the natural timber structure, hop the lure out and wait for a good committed strike. Once hooked it was a no-holds barred fight on tight drag in an attempt to get the fish
into the open expanse of the river to play them out on his terms.
Using light line was highlighted as a key to securing the all important big fish bites,
“Without doubt I went light to get the bites as the water clarity was still really good. It was a risky strategy that thankfully paid off. I always believed that I was on the fish to put two reasonable bags together, but the calibre of some of the fish I found on day two exceeded my expectations immeasurably. Big thanks to my two non boaters Tanya Konsul and Paul Siemasko for their company and help on the water”.
Hodges Sticks To The Plan
Brad Hodges, a 34 year old PE Primary School Teacher was runner up at the Gippsland Lakes event. Hodges led the field after day one, but was overtaken by Betts’ final day heroics. Always consistent at ABT events, Hodges again caught the bream to contend for top honours.
In the prefish Hodges went towards Lakes Entrance where he worked a combination of jetties, moored boats, shallow flats and sunken timber. As the morning rolled on he worked the shallow flats and edges, however there were no signs of fish holding in these areas. Eventually a move up the system resulted in Hodges locating a large concentration of fish holding on the fallen snags and drop offs.
Faced with a decision on day one whether to target the jetties or fish concentrated around the snags and drop-offs Hodges hedged his bets and decided to hit the jetties. Ultimately this decision set up his tournament and got him tuned into a pattern that produced quality fish throughout the event,
“Within the first handful of casts I hooked up to a solid fish only to pull the hooks. Luckily within the next few casts I was on again and this time a kilo bream came quickly to the net. As I worked the next couple of jetties and moored boats I landed two more fish and my confidence was building. At 9:30am I headed upriver to search for the schooling fish. The fish seemed to have thinned out compared to the prefish, but after working a couple of snags with a Berkley 3B puppydog I landed my fourth legal fish. It was shortly after that I hooked a really large bream very deep in a snag, this fish was every bit of 1.5kg and for a spilt second I could see a 5kg bag beckoning, but it quickly came to an end after this fish tore me to shreds on the barnacle encrusted snag.
Knowing that you generally only get 1 chance to land a fish like that in a tournament I felt I had wasted a great opportunity. With an hour to go the fish began to bite a little more freely and after landing my fifth legal and upgrading a couple of times I headed back to the weigh in happy that I had five decent fish in my bag, but knowing that I had let two solid fish get away”.
Day two saw Hodges return to the same jetties where he lost an early fish. Working the nearby jetties saw Hodges quickly boat three fish, before he headed up to the snags that had delivered him the larger of his fish on day one. After targeting the sunken timber only one more fish was in the well and doubt started to creep in. A move back to the jetties resulted in a kilo weight fish that rounded out his tournament limit. This relief enabled Hodges to relax and in the remainder of the session Hodges found a couple of small upgrades before heading back to the weigh-in.
Hodges used three individual presentations throughout the tournament. All presentations were rigged on a Abu Garcia rod matched to an Abu Garcia SX20 reel with 6lb nanofil and 4lb sensei leader. The lures of choice were the new Berkley 3” nemesis in camo colour and Berkley 6” sandworm in camo colour (both ridged on a Nitro 1/16th oz jighead) and a Berkley 3B puppydog in mongrel. Hodges explains his choice of lures, “The tail action on the nemesis is the best I have seen, matched with the deadly combination of Gulp! and the camo colour, this lure is set to become a ‘must have’ in your tackle box”.
Hodges techniques with the nemesis and camo worm was to cast in tight to structure and/or first drop off then allowing the lure to hit the bottom. He would then work the lure back to the boat with a combination of lift and drop and a double hop retrieve. With the Berkley puppydog the lure was cast in tight to structure, specifically the timber snags, and aggressively retrieved using a twitch and pause motion through the sticks.
Franchuk Takes Out Non-Boater Title
Alex Franchuk, a 57 year old electrical engineer at Jacobs Australia, took out the non-boater division at the Mercury Gippsland Lakes BREAM Qualifier. Franchuk didn’t get a chance to prefish on the practice day, but was confident in his knowledge of the system given his previous performances at ABT and VicBream Classic events. Franchuk was paired with Geoffrey Borg on day one and Scott Bilton on day two.
During day one Franchuk made the suggestion to head to the Tambo River, near the Johnsonville boat ramp, as he knew the area held a school of legal fish. The team made their way to the location and started to investigate.
“The fish were in the deep and the deal was to use soft plastics and bladed lures to get the fish biting. On Saturday the fish weren’t too active and didn’t want to pay any attention to soft plastics. After catching some fish on bladed lures by Geoff and myself, we decided to stick to blades. I was using Strike Pro Cyber Vibe 35 cm in colour 780E (black) and Ecogear VX35 in 439 colour,
I only landed 3 legal fish on day one but went through numerous undersize fish in the process. That bag put me in contention and I was happy with the result”.
On day two after speaking to his boater Scott Bilton the anglers decided to go and inspect the Mitchell River edges first and then go to the Tambo River and try to catch fish in the deep. Bilton, a NSW local, took Franchuks lead when the anglers arrived at the Mitchell River.
“I only made a dozen or so casts into the bank with the SX40 in custom Geneo paint job when I felt the hit and my rod loaded with the nice size black bream of about a kilo mark. I was thrilled that my plan did work early in the morning,
About five casts later a bigger fish (I estimated it was about 1.3kg) hit the lure and I was on. After a few minutes of careful fighting I landed my biggest bream for the tournament! At that moment I knew I was heading towards the podium”.
After another hour of casting the anglers packed up and headed to the Tambo River. On arrival at the same spot where Franchuk had fished the previous day he was told that the bite wasn’t there and nobody had caught a legal fish so far. It was not good news but knowing the fish were active the day before Franchuk felt confident he could elicit a bite. After trying blades that had worked on day one, he decided to tie on a favourite deep water lure that worked for him in the past, a Bassday Range Vibe in colour black.
“A few casts later I had my third fish on board. I fished extremely slowly with small gentle lifts and drops. Interestingly, the fish became more aggressive and started hitting my vibe almost every third or fourth cast. I went through quite a number of small fish before I landed another keeper. With four fish in the well I was confident that I may have a chance of winning”.
Franchuk alternated his outfits throughout the event. Franchuk favoured a Millerod Bream Buster XF Classic 7’0″ when using an Ecogear SX40 and a Millerod Bream Buster XF Long Cast 7’3″ for soft plastics and vibes. Both rods were teamed with
Daiwa SOL 2000 reels spooled with Unitika Aorika braid in 10lbs with 2m of 4lb fluorocarbon leader by Sunline.
Franchuk acknowledged his previous knowledge and experience at Gippsland Lakes over the last five years as key to his victory at this event.
Austackle Big Bream
Damian Domagala took out the Austackle Big Bream at the Mercury Gippsland Lakes BREAM Qualifier. The 1.62kg session one bream fell to a Jackall Chubby in Brown Suji colour retro fitted with size 10 Van Fook trebles fished in Toms Creek.
Rod: Samurai 101 rod
Reel: Daiwa Certate 2506
Line: Unitika Aorika braid
Leader: 4lb Sunline V Hard leader
Lures: Zman grubs rigged on a Decoy Nailbomb weedless 1/16th jighead
Betts attributes the use of light line (4lb) as a key to his victory at Gippsland Lakes.
Click here for image gallery on www.lureandfly.com
|Berkley BREAM Series: Mercury Gippsland Lakes BREAM Qualifier Boater Results|
|1||Declan BETTS||VIC||5||3.59||5||5.44||10||9.03||$3100 + 1st Mercury ($250) + Duffrods Big Bag + Stomr sponsors bonus|
|2||Brad HODGES||VIC||5||4.63||5||3.75||10||8.38||$1500 + 2nd Mercury ($150)|
|9||Cameron WHITTAM||VIC||4||3.22||1||0.49||5||3.71||$450 + 1st Yamaha ($300)|
|10||Tony PETTIE||VIC||4||2.76||1||0.77||5||3.53||$450 + 3rd Mercury Bonus ($100)|
|11||Damien DOMAGALA||VIC||3||3.5||3||3.5||$500 Austackle Big Bream (1.62kg)|
|Berkley BREAM Series: Mercury Gippsland Lakes BREAM Qualifier Non-Boater Results|
|1||Alex FRANCHUK||VIC||3||1.48||4||3.54||7||5.02||Berkley Pack ($750 RRP) + 1st Hobie Bonus ($50)|
|2||Michael HODGES||VIC||0||3||3.12||3||3.12||Berkley Pack ($500 RRP) + 2nd Hobie Bonus ($35)|
|3||Braddley YOUNG||VIC||0||-0.05||4||2.94||4||2.89||Spotters Sunglasses and Prize Pack + 3rd Hobie Bonus ($25)|
|4||Simon JOHNSON||NSW||1||0.56||2||1.76||3||2.32||Spotters Sunglasses and Prize Pack|
|5||Owen WATSON||0||3||2.12||3||2.12||Tonic Sunglasses & Prize Pack|
|6||Clint VOSS||VIC||0||2||2.02||2||2.02||Bass Mafia & Prize Pack|
|7||Steven PRYKE||VIC||0||3||1.89||3||1.89||Prize Pack|
|8||Nathan LEICHT||NSW||1||1.07||1||0.69||2||1.76||Prize Pack|
|9||Tanya KONSUL||ACT||1||0.78||1||0.8||2||1.58||Prize Pack|
|10||Ben THOMPSON||VIC||2||1.55||2||1.55||Prize Pack|